Great Expectorations

Hey there ‘Redheads… Greetings from inside a NyQuil-induced haze. Oy vey, these last couple days have stunk out loud. I’ve been a sniffly, sneezing, coughing basketcase. I’m currently enjoying a particularly long streak of breaths without my lungs seizing up, so I wanted to sneak in one last blog before February finally fritters away. A couple quick things to hit before a chorus of codine-winged angels sing me softly to sleep.

Big thanks to the DC Improv for having me judge the UMD round of their District’s Funniest College contest. It was nice to see my alma mater bare its comedic chops, clamp down on a packed house, and rip it apart. The comedy scene on the campus has evolved since I was asked to leave. When I first got there as a freshman, there was only one comedy outlet on campus, the resident improv troupe, Erasable Inc. After a couple years of trying and failing to join their ranks, a group of disgruntled cast-offs (myself included) formed a new comedy group, the sketch comedy group, Sketchup. Well, that same circle of bitter jealousy has spawned a new group that was tired of being kicked around, The Bureau…which in turn, pissed off another bunch of upstarts enough to take the collected chips on their shoulders and form another group, called Off The Wall. All of these groups now regularly rumble like the news teams in Anchorman. This new atmosphere of competition has made the wit pool on campus olympic-size. Representatives from each group, and a few folks that I’m sure feel snubbed in some way by them, all rocked the mic…very few awkward lulls in the proceedings. Go Terps. Speaking of which, it’s nice to see the men’s basketball team scrap their way back into the NCAA tourney conversation. The UNC win and hanging tough with Duke has given fans like myself a glimmer of realistic hope this season…keep hope alive. One sweet moment from the Duke game I would like to share. Watch as Duke’s Nolan Smith hits the white brick wall known as Dave Neal…

Keeps getting funnier every time I see it.

By the time most of you read this, I’ll be on the road to a gig in upstate NY at the Lake Ontario Playhouse. If any of you loyal ‘Redheads find yourselves in Sacket’s Harbor, NY this weekend, come check out the show. This is my first real comedy road trip of 2009, so I’m looking forward to being nostalgic about it in the next installment. My apologies if that last sentence ripped a hole in the fabric of time.

Like what you’ve been reading? Care to declare your…like? Oscillate on over to my Facebook fan page and be my fan. Let me into the parking garage of your heart…validate me.

To be continued…

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Blockage

Hey there, ‘Redheads… My brain is a giant cramp right now, but I wanted to get an installment in this week, so February doesn’t stagnate completely. They say the easiest way to gnaw through writer’s block is to just keep typing, so let’s see if I can pour some dran-o through my headpipes and clear out the wad of hair that’s clogging the idea chute. Maybe TV is finally rotting my brain. I’ve been watching more than usual, since I gained access to a TiVo. And not the good kind of TV…nothing of any intrinsic value, absent of decent writing or compelling characters. I’ve been mainlining cheaply produced reality TV, and I don’t even have the commercials that allow me to flip channels to find something even slightly better or more shiny. I have grown to love the beep-boop sound of commercials being blipped away. Unfortunately, it concentrates the crap you’re watching into its most corrosive form.

Recently, the crap du jour has been American Idol. Thousands of mildly talented fame-grabbers has been whittled down to 36, and now they’re crooning their little hearts out, lest their dreams be squashed on national television. I caught the singing round on Tuesday night, mostly to check out one particular contestant. She carries with her the pressure of potentially having one of the most epic on-screen meltdowns in television history…and we’re all rooting for her. Her name is Tatiana Del Toro, and she is the poster girl for delusions of grandeur (the poster is HUGE). Since we were introduced to her in the early audition rounds of the show, it seemed pretty clear that this girl was a natural for reality TV because she already assumed that her life was being taped for the world to see. Her big break could be around the next corner, so she dare never break character. But here’s the thing: she’s not horrible. Not like previous Idol punchlines like William Hung. The judges have kept her around…not solely on the basis of talent, but also because they think it’ll make for compelling TV when she snaps. She’s been a blubbery mess every time an inkling of failure has popped up. Imagine their surprise when she sang on live TV and a) didn’t suck and b) held herself together. They were agape. They were ready to put on their fake creeped out faces. Instead, they stammered through an actual critique of her singing. Paula even marvelled, “You’re supposed to be crazy, right?” Paula had been looking forward all week to seeming lucid by comparison to this girl. This is where the judges and the producers of the show screwed up. You have to let batshit crazy flow naturally. You can’t try and force it. You can’t create the monster, then get pissed because it figured out how to sing “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” Short of dumping a bucket of pig’s blood on the girl, there’s nothing they can do to make her unravel. I didn’t catch tonight’s results, but I didn’t see her name on the list of people who made the cut. If the producers got their wish, she ended up like this…

Wishing for the breakage of a young woman’s paper mache psyche, awaiting the candy shower of train wreck television is a bit morbid. Here’s something that’ll make you laugh those evil thoughts away…

Keeps getting funnier every time I see it.

Speaking of crushing hopes and drowning dreams, I’ll be judging one of the preliminary rounds of the DC Improv’s District’s Funniest College Competition at my alma mater, the University of Maryland on Friday night. I’ll have a full…ok, half-assed recap in the next installment.

‘Til then, keep your ass on the couch and keep reaching for the remote…

All Natural

Hey there, ‘Redheads… Before I start this installment, I’d like to state, for the record, that I have never used performance enhancing drugs…and it shows. That seems to be the prevailing news of the day…athletes and drugs. A-Rod just admitted to using steroids. Does baseball have any big name players who don’t moonlight at hypodermic pin cushions? Next thing you know, these guys will get popped for juicing…


And then, there’s Michael Phelps, who I think has been treated unfairly in this whole bong brouhaha. First of all, the picture was snapped FOUR YEARS ago. It wasn’t like he hopped out of the pool in Beijing and lit up off the Olympic flame. He was at a party in 2004 and some putz snapped a picture, not realizing what he had until he was making room on a memory card. And the picture doesn’t prove anything…

He’s either toking a bong or…in a jug band. Either way, I suppose sanctions are in order. I just can’t believe he got dropped by Kellogg’s…the company that MAKES Pop Tarts. C’mon, Kellogg’s…you want him on that wall…you NEED him on that wall. Know your audience. Your loss is Funyons gain, is all I’m saying.

With the economy being as crappy as it is, a lot of stores are closing their doors. One of my favorite purveyors of ribald t-shirts is shuttering for good. Do yourself a favor and check out the evil goods over at TShirtHell.com before it’s returns to the darkness from whence it came. Here’s a small sample of what you’ll find…

Get ’em while the getting is good.

Speaking of t-shirts, I’ve cobbled together a string of comedy gigs for the 2nd quarter of the year that could almost pass for a tour schedule. Feel free to slap these on the merchandise of your choice:

April 10 & 11 @ Magooby’s Joke House in Baltimore, MD
April TBA @ the Comedy Factory in Baltimore, MD
May 8 & 9 @ the Comedy Zone in Harrisburg, PA
May 14 – 17 @ the DC Improv (opening for JEFF ROSS)
May 21 – 23 @ the Funny Farm in Youngstown, OH
May 29 & 30 @ the Comedy Zone in Greensboro, NC
June 5 & 6 @ the Comedy Zone in Charleston, WV
June 11 & 12 @ Cozzy’s in Newport News, VA

Mark your calendars. Go to Jared.

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve no doubt been deluged by these lists of 25 things that everyone has been posting. Twenty-five little tidbits that I never thought were interesting enough to ask about in the first place are now encroaching on my valuable wasted time. Hey, I’m trying to tell people abut me over here! It’s like I’m in the Clockwork Orange chair, eyes pinned open, while my friends and mild acquaintances explain why strained peaches are emotionally significant and why they hate the smell of old people. I love how these lists seem to have jumped the shark after a week of shelf life. My favorite mockery of the list came from my buddy, Mauricio, who wrote 25 lines of, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Kudos, sir. You’ll be glad to know that I’ve got 25 problems, but a list ain’t one. If you’re going to waste your time reading pointless crap about somebody, make it this crap…about me.

Some of you are wondering aloud, “Whatever happened to the classics?” Asked and answered…

I smell best seller…oh, and BRAINS!!

To be continued…